American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

4 Years of Married Couples in California

“June is, after all, the month for weddings.” Chief Judge Vaughn Walker famously remarked during closing arguments of the Prop. 8 trial, which concluded two years ago Saturday.

In 2008, exactly two years prior, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon became the first gay couple to legally marry in San Francisco after over 55 years together.

They were among an estimated 18,000 couples to marry in California before voters narrowly passed Proposition 8. For Del and Phyllis, their wedding was the culmination of a lifetime fighting for equality. As the co-founders of the first lesbian organization in the nation, and among the first members of the first LGBT Democratic Club, the two women are trailblazers in LGBT history. Sadly, wedded bliss did not last long. Two months after they married, Del passed away. Reflecting on their time together, Phyllis said:

“Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn’t be by my side. I am so lucky to have known her, loved her and been her partner in all things.

“I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able to get married. I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.”

As we mark 4 years of married couples in California, and wait to find out when couples can get married again, we remember Ted Olson’s words in closing arguments (here captured by Martin Sheen) about why laws like California’s Prop. 8 are indefensible and unconstitutional:

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP